A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, June 6, 2011

Salih May be Out of the Country, but the Salih Family is Holding On

While most Yemen experts seemed to feel over the weekend that ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Salih's departure for Saudi Arabia probably meant his loss of power, regardless of his health conditions, Salih's own family do not seem to share that view. The President's eldest son, Ahmad, heads the Republican Guard and was once considered a likely successor; a range of half brothers, nephews and grandchildren hold many other key military and paramilitary commands. There are multiple reports today saying Ahmad is in control of the Presidential Palace and that, as a result, Vice President ‘Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is supposdly now Acting President, has been unable to enter the Palace or take control of the military. Even Hadi himself has said that Salih will return soon.

I am certainly not a Yemen expert, but it's clear that Salih 's physical absence doers not mean he has no lingering influence inside Yemen. There will be pressures against allowing him to return, and the hospitalizaion could provide him with a graceful way to exit the stage, but so far the Salih supporters are still talking about a return "within days." Gregory Johnsen at Waq-Waq takes issue with all those who are certain he's finished. Given Salih's Rasputin-like talent for coming back from the apparent grave, I suspect a cautious judgment might be that his departure has shifted the balance of power, but has not fully decided it.

No comments: